I Tried It: Meal Planning & Prepping
We all have different ideas of how to spend our weekends. Should you spend it relaxing on your couch watching television, practicing yoga, going out with friends or craving some much needed alone time? What those all have in common is that it’s a detox from the past week. Most of us have busy week schedules and so the weekend can be the only time we have to relax and recuperate from being ‘on’ for so long. It may not make sense to dedicate that time to meal planning and meal prepping. But after seeing all of the posts on it… how could I not try it at least once?
After all, a little bit of work on the weekend can save you time throughout the week. In addition, this helps to set you up for success through the week, having healthy options on-hand instead of being tempted with other not-so-healthy options.
Some benefits of meal prepping include that it can:
- Help save money.
- Ultimately save time.
- Help with weight control, as you decide the ingredients and portions served.
- Contribute to an overall more nutritionally balanced diet.
- Reduce stress as you avoid last minute decisions about what to eat, or rushed preparation.
I tried meal planning and meal prepping, and here’s my experience:
At first, it took way too long
Honestly, the first week I tried meal planning and meal prepping work – it took forever. I sat down and realized that I had no idea what I wanted to eat next week. Scratch that, I didn’t know what I wanted to make for dinner that night. It got me thinking about all of the recipes I had bookmarked over the years. Meal planning was the perfect opportunity to use them. Still… it took a long time to schedule it.
Once I had to actually prep the vegetables, grains and protein – it took even longer! But after a few hours of strenuous work and a spontaneous trip to the grocery store to buy more containers – it was rewarding.
Balancing planning and spontaneity
Much as I grew to love meal planning, though, one of the things that bothered me was the lack of surprise. I always knew what I was eating, and often, it was the same thing. It may be healthy to eat broccoli and salmon every evening, but it isn’t exactly mind boggling to your taste buds.
I also found it took some of the joy out of randomly throwing some ingredients together and making something completely random. And that’s some of the best part of cooking, it means you can have fun with it.
Instead of meal planning and meal prepping everything, I now balance doing my meal planning every Sunday without the meal prepping work. It can make me feel like a ‘Weekend Warrior’ to get up Sunday morning and prep food, but I have even more fun trying to imagine how many meals match up to how much food. I love going through my old bookmarks and finding old recipes that I’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the chance to.
So I make my plans. But more often than not, I compromise. Maybe I wrote down that I wanted to have chicken, mushrooms and spinach for dinner… but that leftover zucchini quiche is looking just as tasty. As long as it adds some structure to my weekends, I’m a happy adaptable meal planner who sometimes listens to myself (but sometimes not).
What do you think? Are you a meal planner? Or even more ambitious, are you a meal prepper?